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Name: People v. Eid
Case #: S211702
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 07/10/2014

Defendants who were charged with kidnapping for ransom were properly convicted of two uncharged lesser included offenses, neither of which is an included offense of the other. Defendants Eid and Oliveira were charged with two counts of kidnapping for ransom. The evidence at trial showed that defendants participated in smuggling Brazilian citizens, Ana and her son Iago, into the United States and refused to release them until Ana’s husband paid them more money. The jury found defendants not guilty of kidnapping for ransom, but convicted them as to each count of two lesser included offenses, attempted extortion and misdemeanor false imprisonment. The Court of Appeal reversed in part, holding that defendants could not be convicted of two lesser included offenses of a single greater offense. The Supreme Court granted review. Held: Reversed. Penal Code section 1159 provides that “[t]he jury may find the defendant guilty of any offense, the commission of which is necessarily included in that with which he is charged.” Here, the court construed “any offense” to have a plural meaning based on considerations that inform a trial court’s duty to instruct on lesser included offenses. Trial courts are required to instruct on lesser included offenses to protect the jury’s “truth ascertainment function” and to avoid presenting a jury with an unwarranted all-or-nothing choice. The purposes of the rule are served by allowing the jury to convict on more than one lesser offense, assuming neither one is an included offense of the other, if the jury determines that such convictions more accurately reflect the defendant’s culpability in light of the evidence. People v. Navarro (2007) 40 Cal.4th 668, which held that an appellate court that finds insufficient evidence to support a conviction for one greater offense may not substitute convictions on two lesser included offenses, does not apply because the decision involved different statutes. The roles of a jury in determining guilt and of a reviewing court in determining the validity of a judgment are different and the Legislature has restricted the reviewing court to a corrective function. This limitation does not apply to a jury in a criminal case.